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RESEARCH

Immigrants in Norway more likely to be affected by loneliness

A statistical analysis has found that immigrants in Norway experience greater loneliness and exclusion from society than the rest of the population.

Immigrants in Norway more likely to be affected by loneliness
Photo by Keenan Constance from Pexels

A report from Statistics Norway analyses data from several different studies.

Just under one in five immigrants are a little bothered by loneliness and nearly one in ten are very bothered by loneliness, whereas only five percent of the rest of the population are very bothered by loneliness.

“It has to do with the fact that immigrants are more often than others exposed to living conditions challenges such as low income and reduced health,” the report found.

There are over 700,000 immigrants in Norway, and they make up around 14 percent of the total population according to Statistics Norway.

People with health and financial problems are among those most likely to be affected by loneliness. 25 percent of those with health and financial problems are severely affected by loneliness.

Poor Norwegian language skills, limited contact with family, as well as facing discrimination and abuse are all cited as important factors in loneliness amongst immigrants.

“Loneliness among immigrants is also related to poor Norwegian skills, and that they face discrimination and problems with family contact,” the report states.

On the other hand, those with less to worry about financially, good Norwegian skills and frequent contact with family are less vulnerable to feeling the effects of loneliness.

READ ALSO: Seven things foreigners in Norway struggle with when trying to settle in

Homeowners are also less likely to feel lonely than those that rent.

“The fact that renting a home is associated with the risk of loneliness may be due to the fact that renting is often shorter term than home ownership and that it takes time establish roots in one place and establish relationships with neighbours and friends,” the report states.

Those whose partners aren’t in Norway are also more vulnerable to loneliness. The report found that having a spouse or partner that isn’t in Norway was a large risk factor.

Furthermore, being single, missing friends, and not trusting others are associated with significantly greater loneliness.

There were few differences in gender when it came to loneliness. However Polish women are rarely bothered by loneliness, the analysis found. On the other hand, women from Sri Lanka, Turkey and Somalia are more likely to feel lonely than the men.

Categorised by global region, those from Africa and Asia are the most likely to feel lonely and excluded from society and are two-and-a-half times more likely to feel lonely than the rest of the population.  

The report concludes that the Norwegian government should look at more general measures to improve living conditions and reduce inequality to reduce and prevent loneliness and social exclusion.

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SWEDISH CITIZENSHIP

‘The idea is to convert permanent residency into Swedish citizenship,’ Migration minister says

Sweden's Migration Minister has responded to criticism of the government's proposal to abolish permanent residency, telling an interviewer that the hope is that holders will gain full citizenship rather than get downgraded to temporary status.

'The idea is to convert permanent residency into Swedish citizenship,' Migration minister says

“The main idea behind the [Tidö] agreement is that we should convert permanent residency to citizenship,” Maria Malmer Stenergard, from the right-wing Moderate Party, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.”You should not be here forever on a permanent residence permit. A clear path to citizenship is needed.”

I envision that you will receive individual plans for how to achieve this,” she continued. “Learn the language, earn a living, and have knowledge of Swedish society, so that you can fully become a Swedish citizen.” 

Malmer Stenergard said it was still unclear whether a planned government inquiry into the possibility of “converting…existing permanent residence permits” would also open the way for those who have been given a permanent right to live in the country to be downgraded to a temporary residency permit. 

“We’ll have to look at that,” she said. “There is a problem with positive administrative decisions and changing them, which the Migration Agency’s director general Mikael Ribbenvik has been aware of. We also state in the Tidö Agreement that basic principles of administrative law shall continue to apply.” 

READ ALSO: What do we know about Sweden’s plans to withdraw permanent residency?

In the Tidö Agreement, the deal between the far-right Sweden Democrats and the three government parties, it says that “asylum-related residence permits should be temporary and the institution of permanent residence permits should be phased out to be replaced by a new system based on the immigrant’s protection status”.

It further states that “an inquiry will look into the circumstances under which existing permanent residence permits can be converted, for example through giving affected permit holders realistic possibilities to gain citizenship before a specified deadline. These changes should occur within the framework of basic legal principles.”

Malmer Stenergard stressed that the government would only retroactively reverse an administrative decision (over residency) if a way can be found to make such a move compatible with such principles. 

“This is why we state in the Tidö Agreement that basic principles of administrative law must apply,” she said. 

She said the government had not yet come to a conclusion on what should happen to those with permanent residency who either cannot or are unwilling to become Swedish citizens. 

“We’re not there yet, but of course we’re not going to be satisfied with people just having an existing permanent residency, which in many cases has been granted without any particularly clear demands, if they don’t then take the further steps required for citizenship.” 

This did not mean, however, that those with permanent residency permits should be worried, she stressed. 

“If your ambition is to take yourself into Swedish society, learn the language, become self-supporting, and live according to our norms and values, I think that there’s a very good chance that you will be awarded citizenship.” 

She said that even if people couldn’t meet the requirements for citizenship, everyone with permanent residency should at least have “an individual plan for how they are going to become citizens”, if they want to stay in Sweden. 

When it comes to other asylum seekers, however, she said that the government’s aim was for residencies to be recalled more often. 

“We want to find a way to let the Migration Agency regularly reassess whether the grounds for residency remain. The aim is that more residencies should be recalled, for example, if a person who is invoking a need of asylum or other protection then goes back to their home country for a holiday.” 

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